New England’s Best Breakfasts: O’Rourke’s Diner

On a hill above the western bank of the Connecticut River, down past the charming brick and brownstone buildings of Middletown’s historic Main Street, sits an incongruous shiny silver-and-glass building, with an old-fashioned neon sign overhead proclaiming “O’Rourke’s Diner.”

This eatery has been a town institution since 1941, when John J. O’Rourke purchased the building. During the 1960s, John’s nephew Brian joined the fold, learning to grill eggs by his uncle’s side. In 1977, he took over. When a terrible fire devastated the place in 2006, it was through the support of the community that Brian was able to reopen six months later. Diners here feel this sense of community. “There are no ‘servers’ here,” Brian says, “only family.”

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